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Workers call for $14 minimum wage at province-wide rallies

Two rallies in Toronto on Saturday are part of a province-wide day of action calling for a $14 minimum wage.

The Jane Finch Action Against Poverty is holding a street party at the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue West from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and a carnival is planned outside the Toys “R” Us at Dufferin Mall at 1 p.m.

Other events — all part of the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage launched in March — are taking place throughout the GTA and as far away as Sudbury.

The coalition behind the campaign said the minimum wage has been frozen at $10.25 for three years while food and transit costs have soared.

“We are all struggling to live on the minimum wage,” a Workers’ Action Centre member said on the campaign website.

“10.25 per hour. Anyone living in the city of Toronto or even other cities around Ontario, working for 10.25 is really going through a rough time right now. Costs have gone up so much over the last three years,” said Sonia Singh, one of the organizers of the Toronto event.

“Working full time in Ontario, in a big city, you’re almost 20 percent below the poverty line if your making 10.25 an hour.”

“If u think about what that adds up to its under $19,000 a year is what a 35 hour a week on minimum wage gets you …how can you raise a family on that?” Singh questions.

“When you go to the grocery store, food prices are way up. Rent is increasing every year. We are hard-working people. But with the current minimum wage, it’s either you go hungry or pay the rent.”

Organizers said groups like the Retail Council of Canada and the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association are lobbying against any increases.

The Ontario government set up a panel in July to study minimum wage policy.